Effective today, July 1, Kelly May-Vollmar is superintendent of Desert Sands Unified School District
Kelly May-Vollmar is no stranger to the Desert Sands Unified School District, having served as assistant superintendent of educational and technology services in Desert Sands since 2019. On July 1, however, she took center stage as superintendent to lead the valley’s largest school district.
She was named in April to replace Scott Bailey who announced in November his plans to retire on June 30.
Bailey, popular and affable, shepherded DSUSD through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing 34 schools, 2,800 employees and 27,000 students during the district’s abrupt transition to distance learning and its 2021 reopening plan. He was appointed in 2017.
Under Bailey’s leadership, DSUSD earned three Golden Bells, the most prestigious award given to school districts by the California School Boards Association.
The term of May-Vollmar’s agreement is from July 1, 2022, through midnight June 30, 2025.
As she begins her new role, Uken Report posed May-Vollmar a few questions.
Uken Report (UR): As you know, you have huge shoes to fill. How do you plan to make this role your own?
May-Vollmar: I absolutely have huge shoes to fill. As we transition, it is my hope that we will continue to build on the amazing work accomplished by Superintendent Bailey while at the same time continuing to find new ways to innovate. The beauty of transitioning from one leader to the next is that each individual has a unique skill set and the organization benefits from preserving what came before while capitalizing on the new leader’s skills and talents. The district will certainly benefit from the seamless transition of an in-house appointment.
UR: Are there any programs or activities that Superintendent Bailey started that you would retain such as Undercover Sup or the Coffee talks?
May-Vollmar: Bailey was instrumental in creating several key programs in DSUSD. We absolutely plan to continue the coffee talks with a rebranding to “Koffee with Kelly” (a little play on the spelling). These events are important as they allow us to interact with the community in their own part of the valley. We will also be continuing Not So Undercover Sup in an effort to shine the spotlight on all the behind-the-scenes work that supports teaching and learning on a daily basis.
UR: Can you share any new programs or ideas that students and parents can expect from you?
May-Vollmar: Parents can expect that I will continue a focus on innovation. As the former Chief Innovation and Information Officer for DSUSD, I am very proud of the work we did to establish our own LTE network for student connectivity. When considering how to roll out our 1:1 program years ago, equity and access were driving forces in my planning. This focus led to the development of an LTE network ensuring that students would not only have access to a device but to internet connectivity as well. The community can expect that I will continue to lead with a focus on innovation to ensure that we have the very best opportunities in place for our students.
Additionally, parents and students can expect a focus on early literacy. In an effort to ensure that all students are prepared for college, career, and life, we must ensure that they have a strong foundation from the beginning of their educational journey.
UR: What is your No. 1 priority for the school district?
May-Vollmar: My priorities for the district are ensuring that we have an environment that is well-rounded. We have to have programs and supports in place for staff and students that lead to a safe environment where staff can do their best work and students can learn and flourish.
UR: Your contract states that the District shall allocate up to a total of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) to provide a coach during your first two years of employment as Superintendent. Do you anticipate needing a coach? If so, would you ask Scott Bailey to be your coach?
May-Vollmar: I believe strongly in the power of coaching. I have always worked to surround myself with a strong personal learning network. I believe that surrounding yourself with those that will coach and inspire you is a strong leadership practice. It is impossible for one person to have all the knowledge and all the ideas available, and coaching will allow me to continue to learn and grow as a leader. I am sure that Superintendent Bailey will always be just a phone call away.
UR: What is the biggest challenge facing DSUSD?
May-Vollmar: There are a few challenges facing us right now, however, I like to consider them opportunities. We have the opportunity to continue to create atmospheres that are physically, socially, and emotionally safe for our staff and students. We also have a great opportunity to continue working with our local universities to create strong teacher and leadership pipelines to ensure we have the very best staff in place at our school sites. Additionally, we also have the opportunity to continue to offer the best educational experience for our students. We know that some students are still struggling due to the pandemic. We will continue to create whole systems of engagement to address the academic needs of all students.
UR: How would you define your leadership style, especially as it relates to students.
May-Vollmar: My leadership style is a mix of transformational and servant leadership. I believe it is my job to create the right conditions for students and staff to do their best work. Inspiration is powerful and it is vital that our students are inspired and aware of the world of opportunities available to them. Working as a team with staff and the community at-large, I believe we can provide inspiration and set an example for our students to follow.
UR: Anything you would like to add?
May-Vollmar: I thank the board for their trust in me as Desert Sands’ next superintendent.
- Kelly May-Vollmar: DSUSD